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A Queensland-based energy supplier was fined $300,000 by the Rockhampton Magistrates Court for a Category 2 offence related to a fatal incident involving an unsafe overhead powerline on farmland.
Details of the Incident
In late September 2020, corrosion was noted on a power pole supported by stay wires. However, it was given a Priority 3 rating, indicating no urgent need for repair. Ten months later, a tragic accident occurred when a harvester working under the powerline either contacted or came close to it, resulting in one worker being electrocuted and dying, and five others receiving electric shocks and requiring hospitalization.
The charge against the energy supplier arose from the failure to routinely inspect the entire length of the stay wires, particularly the parts obscured by guards. This oversight led to corrosion and the breaking of a stay wire, causing the power pole to shift and the powerline to drop.
Court’s Decision and Impact on Victims
The court recognized the severity of the offence and the irreplaceable loss suffered by the deceased worker’s family. The defendant expressed sincere remorse and cooperated early in the proceedings, leading to the imposition of a $300,000 fine and additional costs. The court acknowledged the energy supplier’s status as a responsible corporate entity but emphasized the catastrophic outcome of its safety failure.